If you'll recall, the recently unretired James Johnson Watch ran on a Friday when last we saw it. That was fun wasn't it? It was also highly irregular. For such an esteemed column to run not on a Thursday but on the day after, adjacent to a weekend no less, was inappropriate. Time and circumstance forced me into such a position; there was no way to know if James Johnson would play again for the Toronto Raptors. And there was no way I could risk waiting a week -- until the following Thursday -- to find out. By then, it would be old news.
Maybe it's because I'm getting older (full disclosure: I'm 31, turning 32 in August, so not exactly an old man or anything), but time is starting to do a weird thing. I can find myself as I am now, sitting on a couch writing, confronted with a long, long block of existence ahead. Literally an unfathomable quantity, barring calamity. I could live to be 81, which means I've got another 50 years of sitting here to look forward to. I have a job and write things on the internet. I enjoy movies. This seems like a surplus amount of time to do any of those things. It's unsettling.
At the same time, I'm living in an age -- have in fact lashed myself to its endlessly churning construct -- when time feels to be moving faster and faster. Life on the internet is relentless. You may not have even read all the way to this sentence, such is the speed of our lives (or, uh, the quality of the writing). Had I written about Johnson's sartorial choices six days after I'd seen them, it would have been totally lost amid the noise of everything else that has happened to the Raptors over the past week. It's quite the conundrum. More time than I know what to do with, but somehow in a rush.
Anyway, the Raptors are still in the playoffs and Johnson remains on the roster and in professional basketball.
Did James Johnson Play?
Johnson found himself in three different games this past week, in three wildly different circumstances. First up, the disaster that was Game 6 of the Miami series. The Raptors were wiped out by the Heat in that one and JJ found himself in six totally ineffective minutes. Then, Game 7, and garbage time of a different sort -- playing the final minute of the biggest win in franchise history. And finally, Game 1 of the Raptors' first ever Conference Final. I didn't expect Johnson to play very much, even with LeBron James of the Cavaliers on the other end of the court, but there he was, doing what he could (and finishing as the third leading scorer on the team).
It says something, unfortunately, about how bad the Raptors were in Game 1 that this was one of the few highlights to comment on:
James Johnson is 4-4 with 2 three-pointers. That's for those who thought they'd seen it all— Doug Smith: Raptors (@SmithRaps) May 18, 2016
A nice little line for Johnson to build on after a large swath of inactivity (he finished 4-for-6). But for the Raptors, it was damning. Johnson should not be your third most productive player in an ECF playoff game.
All in all, Johnson finished the week with 27 minutes played, 10 points, five rebounds and a pair of steals. Since I didn't set a line last week, everyone's a winner! Congrats, guys.
Forget all that "stout defense" talk of the previous Watch episode, look at my man get up here. Get some JJ!
Johnson later got ahead of himself in the open court, which led to the ball getting poked away from behind -- and some light chiding on-air from Leo Rautins. But I like to think of all those Cleveland fans who have probably had no reason at all to think of the Raptors' tenth (eleventh?) man as of late. I like to think of them watching Johnson finish this dunk. And I like to think of them saying: Who is that?
Prediction for the Week
The Raptors have Game 2 tonight, and then Games 3 and 4 at home on Saturday and Monday. That's, uh, all we know for sure right now. Johnson was called upon for 19 minutes in the first game against Cleveland (as DeMarre Carroll was getting eviscerated by LeBron) so he may need to step up again. This is where the Raptors are right now in the playoffs.
Over/Under Minutes: 53.5
If you're doing the math, this is probably a pessimistic number. Not for Johnson, but for the Raptors. Sad face.